Merikay Waldvogel Legacy Project

Knoxville, Tennessee, United States


Merikay Waldvogel, 2002

In 2009 Merikay Waldvogel was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame for her lifetime of commitment to the documentation and preservation of quilt history. According to the induction essay, authored by Bets Ramsey, “The mismatched blocks of a North Carolina Lily quilt in the window of an antiques shop in Evanston, Illinois, caught her eye. She was looking for something to decorate her new one-room apartment on the North Side of Chicago. Wondering what unusual circumstances occurred to the quiltmaker to interrupt her work, Merikay Waldvogel decided to give the quilt a home. That was the beginning, in 1974, of Merikay's affair with quilts. "I doubt that the word patchwork had ever crossed my lips," she told me later, adding, "I did not grow up with quilts in my family. However, I was sewing most of my clothes, knitting, and weaving. That one quilt fascinated me; it changed my life and career path." (see the full excellent induction essay here:

Waldvogel became an outspoken advocate for saving quilt ephemera such as quilt catalogs, newspaper columns, batting wrappers, advertisements, contest fliers, etc. The ephemera served as reliable primary sources to authenticate the quilts she was researching. In 1992, she acquired a major collection of quilt ephemera compiled by round robin pattern collector, Mildred Dickerson of Birmingham, Alabama. See

Her work as a quilt scholar has been far-reaching and prolific. She has curated exhibitions, co-led the Quilts of Tennessee Documentation project (see, been a primary researcher on the Sears Quilt Contest, Mary Gasperik, Ruth Bond, and Depression-Era quilts. She has authored many publications, served as board members of quilt studies organizations, and has lectured widely.

Merikay has worked closely with the Quilt Index team since it was originally launched as part of a group of projects associated with the Alliance for American Quilts, the Michigan State University Museum, and MATRIX: Center for the Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University. Through her efforts, the entire Tennessee quilt survey was one of the first state documentations to be included in the Quilt Index. Subsequently, Merikay worked on galleries and essays for the Quilt Index, including the Mary Gasperik Collection, Printed Panels for Chintz Quilts: Their Origin and Use, Mary Gasperik, Her Life and Her Quilts, and the 1933 Sears National Quilt Contest Discoveries.
-- Merikay Waldvogel, Knoxville, Tennessee, March 2012; supplemented by Marsha MacDowell, East Lansing, Michigan, August 2020

Selected Publications:
Waldvogel, Merikay. “Printed Panels for Chintz Quilts: Their Origin and Use” in Uncoverings 2013. Lincoln, NE: American Quilt Study Group, 2013.
------. "The Marketing of Anne Orr's Quilts." Uncoverings 1990. San Francisco: American Quilt Study Group, 1991.
------. "Mildred Dickerson: A Quilt Pattern Collector of the 1960s and 1970s." Uncoverings 1994. San Francisco: American Quilt Study Group, 1995.
------. "The Origin of Mountain Mist Patterns." Uncoverings 1995. San Francisco: American Quilt Study Group, 1996.
------. "Quilts in the WPA Milwaukee Handicraft Project, 1935-1943." Uncoverings 1984. Mill Valley, CA: American Quilt Study Group, 1985.
------. "Southern Linsey Quilts of the Nineteenth Century." Uncoverings 1987. San Francisco: American Quilt Study Group, 1989. Reprinted in Quiltmaking in America: Beyond the Myths. Edited by Laurel Horton. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1994.

Waldvogel, Merikay, and Barbara Brackman. Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 World's Fair. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1993.
Ramsey, Bets, and Merikay Waldvogel. The Quilts of Tennessee: Images of Domestic Life Prior to 1930. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1986.
------. Soft Covers for Hard Times: Quiltmaking and the Great Depression. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1990.
------. Southern Quilts: Surviving Relics of the Civil War. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1998.
------. Childhood Treasures: Doll Quilts by and for Children. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2008.

Born in: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States.

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